Ayurvedic philosophy states believes that individuals who are Kapha dominant tend to gain weight easily than the other dosha types. Vata individuals are usually skinny and do not put on weight easily; Pitta types are usually blessed with a proportional body weight.
Ayurveda believes that out of the three basic doshas, the Kapha dosha easily accumulates with fat, which further slows down the metabolism of fat, thus leading to obesity. Kapha types need to be more cautious and strict with themselves in maintaining a regular exercise routine and eating a healthy diet.
The Ayurvedic philosophy is rooted in the belief that all good health begins with digestion, or the proper metabolism of food. The most important thing we can do for our health is to ensure that we choose our food wisely.
Hippocrates famously stated, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food”. This phrase tells us much about the healing power of food. A shloka (the ancient writing texts of Ayurveda) states that if we consume foods that are suited to our physiology and adhere to a sattvic (full of life force) lifestyle that supports digestion, our bodies will greatly benefit. Leading a sattvic diet will give us more health, happiness and vitality throughout life.
Ayurveda states that the human physiology reflects the laws of the universe; therefore, the more in tune we live our lives in accordance with nature, the healthier we are likely to be. Here are a few guidelines on eating a healthy diet:
One of the main causes of obesity is overeating, and taking meals at irregular times. Be conscious of whether you are actually hungry or eating to deal with stress, boredom or any other negative emotional response (anxiety, anger, sadness, depression, guilt, etc). Eat your meals on time every day and avoid delaying your meals.
Eat natural foods that are organic, pesticide-free and free-range as much as possible. Avoiding processed, genetically modified foods (GMOs), foods with artificial preservatives and synthetic chemicals.
Consume a wide range and quantity of vegetables and fruits. Not only are they nutritious but they are excellent cleansers for our internal organs. Vegetables need not be consumed as a separate dish, but can easily be added to grains, stuffed in breads, and tossed into soups and stews.
Ayurveda recommends foods that are bioavailable, which means it is easier for the body to extract nutrients from such foods. This is done by cooking your vegetables instead of consuming them raw. While it is believed that raw vegetables contain more vitamins and nutrients, they are also harder for our bodies to metabolize. If a vegetable is eaten raw, imagine how long it can take for the digestive enzymes and digestive fire to completely penetrate the core of the vegetable and break it down.
For those who enjoy eating salads, consume your raw veggies during lunch time, so as to give your body enough time to digest the food. The sun is the highest in the sky during the afternoon hours, and this is the time that our digestive agni is at its most optimal potency. As the sun sets, so does our digestive agni.
Most of us believe that it’s best to eat a heavy breakfast, medium lunch and a small dinner. Because the digestive agni is strongest during the afternoon, lunch should ideally be the largest meal of the day.
According to Ayurveda, ama or toxins build up as a result of improper digestion. This is the root cause of most disorders. Improper digestion is a result of the following:
Ayurveda suggests that each meal should contain all six flavors, namely salty, sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent. The dominance of the flavors we consume will be based on our dominant dosha constitution. For example, Kapha types may prefer pungent dishes; Vata types might favor heavier meals that have salty or sour flavors; Pitta dominant people generally prefer sweet flavors.
Do a detox cleanse with the change of each season to eliminate ama from the body. It is recommended in early spring, during the time that nature begins its annual cycle of regeneration.
Avoid fad diets that are usually accompanied with the media hype which advertises new research on certain foods, diets or drinks that are “guaranteed” to work. Besides, it can be a challenge to keep up-to-date on the latest fads that dictate what to eat, when and how.
If you want to lose body fat, eat more foods that are astringent, bitter and pungent. The following foods are great to consume if you want to lose weight:
Apple cider vinegar
Indian gooseberry (amla)
Many people still believe in the fallacy that eating less or starving oneself will burn fat and lose weight. Here is some important news: eating less will not make the body burn fat. Instead, this makes the body think that food is in shortage; thus, the body will cling onto fat more stubbornly, and will burn muscle tissue. The body only burns a bit of fat as a last resort, if it has absolutely no other choice.
When we need energy, our metabolism wants to burn fat; and what is a good source of fat when the body is being starved? Stored fat! However, as stated before, the body will cling tightly to stored fat and will not allow the metabolism to simply burn it to use as energy.
In addition, body tissue will burn a lot of calories. So, when the body is starving, what would the metabolism want if it cannot get fat? It will want to get rid of calorie-burning tissue, specifically, muscle tissue. Therefore, metabolism will burn off muscle tissue instead of fat. Studies have found that up to 70% of weight lost when eating less food comes not from body fat, but from burning muscle.
As soon as we stop starving our bodies, we now have all the calories we previously had but require less of these calories, due to the lack of the calorie-hungry muscle and our metabolism which has slowed down. The metabolism will now consider eating a normal amount of food as overeating, and it will create new body fat.
This means that starvation will burn muscle and cause weight gain from more body fat - NOT less - in the long term.
Researcher G.L. Thorpe states in the Journal of the American Medical Association that eating less does not lead to weight loss, “…by selective reduction of adipose deposits [body fat], but by wasting of all body tissues…therefore, any success obtained must be maintained by chronic undernourishment.”
In a study conducted at the University of Geneva, it was found that those who ate less weighed the most and had the highest percentage of body fat, as compared to the control group who ate normally.
Eating less is neither healthy nor practical as our bodies are chronically undernourished, as stated in Thorpe’s article. That’s why many of us resort to yo-yo dieting, a never-ending cycle of weight loss and weight gain. This is also why eating less food is not an effective long-term strategy to reduce weight and get rid of body fat.
Given that each person is unique, it can be challenging to adapt a weight loss eating plan or diet. The simplest way to manage body fat is to eat a natural and organic diet, reduce the intake of processed foods, and keep active on a daily basis. While you may not immediately see results, this strategy will pay off in the long term and will keep fat off your body without any detrimental side effects.